“I did what any reasonable adult woman would do when confronted with her college rival turned next-door neighbor. I dove behind the nearest bookshelf.“
Beach Read is told from the perspective of January Andrews, a bestselling romance author who is in the midst of a personal crisis that has impacted her desire to write another happy romance, but with a deadline looming she has very little choice in the matter. When she decides to spend the summer at a beach house left to her by her late father, she hopes that she can use this time to write while tying up some personal matters. Surprisingly, her next door neighbour is none other than Augustus Everett, an author of literary fiction and her former college classmate who was heavily critical of her writing. With both parties in the midst of writer’s block, they agree to a friendly competition that has them attempting to write in each other’s genre; January will write a story that is on the broody side, and Augustus will write a happy romance. As they spend time learning from one another the words begin to flow, and bonds slowly begin to form.
The premise of Beach Read appealed to me on so many levels. For one, I love a good contemporary romance novel, and when a story focuses on a pair of writers in a small town on the beach… well, that becomes a must-read book for the summer. As excited as I was to read this story, it ultimately left me underwhelmed and slightly disappointed.
To start, I did enjoy this novel as the story began and it is certainly a binge-worthy read. It is well-written and an easy page-turner. I liked the character of January Andrews from the offset, although there were moments and situations where I found her slightly frustrating. Augustus is broody, as expected, and while this as well has its frustrating moments, I didn’t mind it too much. The banter between the two characters is fun and on point for much of the novel. It came across as smart and witty, and seemed to shift from the typical cliches of the genre. I suppose this is where my disappointment in the novel comes in. Just as its main characters dabble in opposing genres, Beach Read walks the line between cute romance and heavy subject matter. While I appreciate this spin on contemporary romance, it simply did not click for me in its execution. The shifts in tone were quite jarring at times, and I was surprised by how dark some of the subject matter was. Needless to say, it really put a damper on the cute and sexy parts of the story. I also would have liked more time spent on the stories that January and Augusts were writing more than their personal dramas. Their competition, which I thought would be the focal point, came off as more of a side note. (Although, the description of January’s novel sounded terrible to me so maybe it was best to not dwell on that too much.)
I would say that Beach Read is a perfectly fine book that seems to have hit the mark for many people. It is certainly a worthy read, but I feel it is important to go into it knowing that it is not the breezy, fun, beachy read that the cover and description depict it to be. It does get dark in its subject matter and can feel rather heavy at times. If this sounds like a story you would like to dive into, please do. However, if you are in search of a lighthearted novel, I would suggest circling around to this one at a later time.